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The camp wash station

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I was really impressed by what kudos wrote about lightweight camping. Unfortunately, I read it right after our family bought a five-pound, two burner cooking stove and the REI "camp kitchen." It all worked out very nicely. Maybe lightweight camping isn't the best way to go family camping or cub camping. Maybe it is. I don't know, but today, I just got the packing list for our Girl Scout fall camp, and they list a wash station: "3 wash tubs, dry rack, dish towels, dish soap, bleach."


When we went out to buy the camp stove, we thought about getting a wash station, but I decided against it because it seemed like just too much to haul around, and I made due during our family camp out by just wiping all the dishes with baby wipes, but when I read "bleach" on the list, I thought that maybe there is a hygiene issue that I had not considered.


So I'm writing my fellow scouters to ask what you do about a washing station when you are camping with your scouts. Do you bother with three tubs and bleach?

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When cub camping we use 4 tubs.....The cub families just can't get the wipe your plate before you wash it thru their heads.....we have two wash......one rinse and one sanitize.....


mom's just can't get that if you trash the wash water with your dirty plate that more hot just isn't a knob twist away.



There are lighter options that work, but when parents are involved best to use the 4 tub method.

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I've heard that it's pretty standard GSUSA operating procedure. Not having ever need to deal with them, I've never bothered.


Honestly, it depends on the type of camping.


If you are in place for a week and working with fresh meat and locally harvested produce, bleach is a good idea. (Washing fruit in bleach before peeling is standard practice for travelers in the tropics.) Wipes are fine for a day and if you don't want to worry about a wet cloth molding up your pack, but they add a lot to the garbage in a large group after a couple of days.


Hot water. Soap. Clean rinse (maybe with sanitizer). Sun dry. That's a lethal combination for most microbes.


The three tubs is just an organizational thing. It makes it easy for youth to line up with their utensils/plates/cups and process the dishes. You have dozens of kids sticking their hands in the dishwater ... you want those hands cleaned before they grab the drying rack! Then a couple of youth are ready to clean pots and pans. Cleanup is done in minutes.


If at all possible, I would train your girls to lash together a drying rack with rope and sticks. It really does add to the "cool factor" in a campsite if you can improvise the comforts of home.

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Yes--three tubs. One with hot soapy water, one to rinse with warm water, and one to sanitize (cool with bleach).


Of course, we have the parents doing the wash up, as cub scouts aren't allowed in the kitchen area. And it's usually just cooking utensils and pots and pans; we haven't gotten the pack to go "green" yet--still using paper plates/plastic utensils and styrofoam cups for those who forget their plastic ones and for hot chocolate.

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From the Boy Scout Fieldbook:


Washing Dishes in Camp

Start a trip with clean utensils, pocketknives, and

kitchen gear. Larger groups at base camps or on

extended journeys can set up a three-step dishwashing


Wash potcontains hot water with a few drops of

biodegradable soap

Cold-rinse potcold water with a sanitizing tablet

or a few drops of bleach to kill bacteria

Hot-rinse potclear, hot water

If each person washes one pot, pan, or cooking utensil in addition

to his or her own personal eating gear, the work will be finished in no time.

Use hot-pot tongs to dip plates and spoons in the hot rinse. Some travelers

also dip their plates, cups, and utensils in boiling water before a meal to

ensure they are sanitary. Lay clean utensils on a plastic ground cloth to dry,

or hang them in a mesh bag or lightweight net hammock.

Smaller groups in more extreme settings can devise variations on the

basic dishwashing theme, starting with menu planning. Meals that require

no cooking or that can be prepared by boiling just a few cups of water can

minimize cleanup chores. Scour pots and pans with a small scrub pad,

sand, or snow. Managed with care, a couple of pots of hot water are all you

need to clean up after most meals.


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InfoScouter, I *LOVE* how the BSA can't make up its mind from book to book. The (current) 12th Edition of the BSA Handbook, pg 327 lists the same "3 pot method", except it's hot rinse before the cold sanitizer rinse.


Eagle732: Handbook says "A few drops". Most troops in our area do a half to three-quarter capfull of bleach.


My Scouts Canada Fieldbook 2000 printing states the same order as the BSA Handbook. It lists four options for the sanitizer rinse:


Hot Water at 77C (170F)

100 parts per million of Chlorine Bleach

200 ppm Quarternary Ammonium

25ppm iodine


In all 4 cases, submerge the item for 45 seconds minimum. Personally, I avoid the hot water method. If you use it, have some tongs on hand so the scouts don't scald themselves.

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Step 1 is scrape. Step 2 is wash in hot soapy water. Step 3 is rinse in clean hot water (we use warm, because we usually don't have enough hot to do wash and rinse all at once). Step 4 is bleach in cool water, 1TBLS unscented bleach per gallon of water. Step 5 is air dry.


Bleach should be between 100-200 PPM. Get a test strip kit.





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Instead of bleach or hot water (which can be hazardous) use Steramine tablets which are available at most restaurant supply stores or easily online (Google it, you'll get tons of hits). Restaurants use Steramine to make the stuff they spray on surfaces, like your table. It's nice because after you're finished with the dishes you can use the rest of the rinse water to wipe down the table and other stuff.


We buy it in bulk, but get large medicine bottles from the drug store and only give patrols a handful of tablets at a time (if they get wet they're wrecked). In two years we've yet to go through a full bottle.


We tell our guys to make all three tubs comfortably warm -- wash, rinse, sterilize. With the Steramine tabs we're not relying on heat for sterilization.

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All the above is important, but DISH WASHING begins not AFTER the meal, but BEFORE and DURING.

Such things as:::


*Portion planning to help eliminate leftovers and scraps. Look up "Ort"

* Train the cooks to clean as they go. All good chefs do. The cooks should NOT have the attitude that because they cooked, they should not clean. Multiple dirty pots and pans can be made fewer with cook awareness.

* Gas stove? Easy. Open wood fire? Don't forget to SOAP the outside of the pots. The black ash will come off much easier.

* No one has mentioned the famous "Philmont Human Sump". I often remind folks as they pass thru the cafeteria line, "Take all you want, but eat all you take."

* Put the water boil pot on the fire FIRST , not after the meal. The wash water should be cooking , just like the stew. When I camp, I always have a pot of hot water for cocoa, coffee, Cupanoodles, oatmeal, or (shudder) dishwashing. Just depends on the time of day. Always appreciated.

*And , yes, folks can get really ill from leftovers, either accidental (poor washing/hygiene) or intentional (no refrigeration for the potatoe salad in the summer).

* And a handwashing station! Simple tripod (lashing project!), hanging gallon jug of water on one end of the string, soap in a netbag on the other end, towel hung over the stickend. SOmeone assigned to keep jug full of water. Enforce hand washing, sanitizer ain't enough.


Bon appetie.(This message has been edited by SSScout)

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